HomeExplorationExhibition highlights plight of artisanal gold miners in West Africa

Exhibition highlights plight of artisanal gold miners in West Africa

The International Organization for Migration regional office for West and Central Africa, is hosting an exhibition documenting the plight of artisanal gold miners in West Africa. 

The exhibition, titled Pour Tout l’Or du Monde, or ‘For All the Gold in the World’, showcases the harsh living and working conditions for gold miners along the so-called gold-belt in Senegal, Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.

This exhibition, being held in Dakar Senegal, also coincides with the unveiling of IOM’s research on migration dynamics and profiles around artisanal gold mining sites in these West African countries. 

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Experts attending the event will present the key findings of the research conducted by IOM this year in the four target countries and will discuss the main recommendations to improve the living conditions in the sites including the development of accessible health facilities, accessible drinking water supply and the establishment of a toxic waste treatment system; support the government in developing awareness programmes on minors’ school drop-out and dangers of artisanal gold mining among minors and their families; and raise awareness among migrant gold miners on the dangers associated with gold mining and the need to use protective equipment. 

Two panels will also discuss other research topics including the feminisation of migration in Côte d’Ivoire and the re-opening of the Western Mediterranean route from Senegal. 

Moreover, Pour Tout l’Or du Monde will include testimonials and photographs collected by IOM, drawing attention to the vulnerability and protection needs of all those impacted by gold mining including female sex workers and unaccompanied minors working at the sites.  

Earlier this year, a young man named Famoro Sidibé died after the pit he was digging in collapsed on top of him. His death was as painful as it was inevitable, his friends say.  

“It doesn’t surprise us when we see what state the pits are in,” says Idrissa Traoré, a pit leading hand, as he watches young men dig without helmets or regular access to water. “We are scared of dying here.” 

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Using Kintsukuroi, the traditional Japanese art of mending broken pottery using resin laced with gold or silver, as the guideline for the exhibition, attendees will be able to see the strength, resilience and incredible courage of all those who are broken and destroyed by this dangerous activity. 

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) funded the research in Guinea and Senegal as part of the Africa Regional Migration Programme and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) funded research in Mali and Burkina Faso as part of the Safety, Support and Solutions across the Central Mediterranean Route programme.

The topic of artisanal mining and ways in which this informal sector can be formalised will be a topic of discussion at the 2020 edition of Nigeria Mining Week to be held in October 2020 in Abuja, Nigeria.